Executive order hits home

Students post signs, protest recent immigration action


Signs of change: “I didn’t want people to feel hurt so I just thought if we put (the signs) up, at least someone’s going to smile.” -Zahra Mohamed, freshman.

As Freshman Zahra Mohamed thinks about her father’s trip overseas to Djibouti, she and her family worry about his ability to return.

“He went back home to see his family and me and my brothers are worried if he can come back or not, so we just don’t know if he’s going to come back,” Mohamed said. “(Djibouti’s) not one of the places that’s banned, but they really don’t care if they ban these seven countries.”

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Jan. 27 temporarily suspending the U.S. refugee program and banning the entry of individuals from seven countries. On Feb. 3, the action was temporarily halted by a federal judge.

Mohamed said in response to the executive action, she posted signs around the school on Jan. 31 with messages like “Hate has no place in America!” and “We want to see our families.”

“I don’t like to see people feeling so depressed and unsafe and then before when the hijab thing happened, people started saying they don’t feel safe here,” Mohamed said. “I wanted to make a difference and then make people feel like ‘you’re not alone, you have people with you.’”   

Mohamed said she hoped the signs would inspire students in spite of the current political climate.

“I didn’t want people to feel hurt so I just thought if we put this up, at least someone’s going to smile,” Mohamed said. “I just want to see them smile and have hope.”

According to Ibrahim Hooper, national communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Trump’s actions have had a divisive effect, resulting in an upsurge of hate, especially toward Muslims.

“American Muslims and Muslims in general are feeling besieged, they are feeling a great state of tension and  apprehension, based on the policies of the Trump administration,” Hooper said. “We believe (Trump’s action) sends a very negative message to the American Muslim community and to the international community, as well, that America does not welcome Muslims. And we see the impact of that in the unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim hate incidents nationwide.”

Senior Suweyda Abdi attended protests in response to the executive order. Abdi said she was surprised by the sense of unity among people at the protest.

“I just expected to see mostly Muslims and immigrants there, but I was really shocked to see that there was a lot of people of different faiths,” Abdi said. “There were so many posters of Jewish people supporting Muslims and Christian people supporting Muslims.. It was really nice to see that.”

Abdi said the executive order complicates her family’s travel plans.

“I have family that was actually supposed to come here this summer but now can’t,” Abdi said.  “I actually have an Aunt down in Texas where she was flying in from Europe or something and she’s actually a citizen. She couldn’t see her kids, who are 5 and 8, and they were put in separate rooms.”

In an announcement Feb. 2, Principal Scott Meyers said regardless of changes in the world, Park will remain a place where all students and families are welcomed.

“Our staff is committed to supporting not only each other, but also each of our students and their families,” Myers said. “I encourage each one of you to consider your role in creating a safe, caring, and supportive community. We will continue to nurture and embrace the future that exists amongst us in the hallway each day.”

Mohamed said her family feels unsafe as a result of recent political events.

“Before I used to let me siblings go out and go to their bus stop every morning, but now where we live is not safe,” Mohamed said. “We don’t feel safe like that anymore. Before we used to just go out, walk to a store, bring food for people at home.”

Meyers said he hopes to continue providing an inclusive environment with authentic values for students at Park.

“We believe that our amazing diversity is what makes St. Louis Park uniquely strong and proud,” Meyers said. “You may be hearing a very different message in our country that may contribute to fear of the unknown. We want you all to know that you belong here and the adults in this building are committed to supporting your concerns and providing reassurance that all are welcome in the community.”

Junior Willie Basill said he feels there are positives and negatives to  Trump’s actions regarding refugees.

“There’s good points and bad points I feel about it,” Basill said. “Obviously I see where he’s coming from with wanting stop it, but then I see the other side of it, where people are not getting to see their families and stuff, and that’s sad.”

Abdi said she feels her hopes to travel will be further inconvenienced in the future.

“I’d love to travel this summer and it’s already hard at the airport,” Abdi said. “They already make me do the most unnecessary things, so I know I’m going to have to do even more unnecessary things.”

Senior Zach Hatcher said although he agrees with Trump on some issues, in the case of Trump’s executive order on refugees, the costs outweigh the benefits.

“Technically it would stop terrorist action, but at the same time, the numbers aren’t there to back it up,” Hatcher said. “I don’t really have a firm opinion on it one way or another. There’s definitely a couple things I would agree with (Trump) on, like tax code and stuff like that, but he’s not my favorite guy.”

Mohamed said when she hung posters up in the cafeteria, she noticed they were missing later in the day.

“I started hanging them up in the cafeteria before lunch and then when I came in for my lunch all of them were gone,” Mohamed said. “There’s people who really don’t care about others. No one really cares about people being banned. We just want to see our family, and then these people, they don’t have a heart, they don’t care. As long as it’s not there family that’s being banned they don’t care.”

Hooper said students can respond to the recent spike in hate incidents in both large and small ways.

“Just be friends with your Muslim classmates,” Hooper said. “Speak out when needed and engage in active civic participation to push back against hate and bigotry.”

Abdi said despite Trump’s role as president, she said she feels he disrespects all aspects of her identity.

“He doesn’t represent me. He goes against everything I believe in, absolutely everything. He has something to say about every part of me, the fact that I’m a woman, I’m black, I’m Muslim, I’m Somali,” Abdi said. “Everything about me he has something to say about. When I say he’s not my president, he’s absolutely not.”